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Wednesday, March 3, 2021 by Seth Smalley
Travis County continues to address damage from Winter Storm Uri
The Commissioners Court fielded ongoing conversation Tuesday regarding the lasting impacts of Winter Storm Uri, with a particular focus on damage from burst pipes.
“We continue to do winter weather operations at the operation center. We have shifted into what they call phase two, focusing on delivering drinking water to apartment complexes and single-family residences. And also delivering some meals ready to eat, or heater-meals, for single-family residences,” County Executive Charles Brotherton said.
He added that the Austin Disaster Relief Network continues to assist with delivering meals and drinking water.
So far, 360 apartment complexes have been served, primarily through installments of drinking water. Even though water service is mostly back to normal, there are still a “significant number” of homes that suffered broken pipes from the excessively cold temperatures. A number of repairs have yet to be made, according to a color-coded map on the Austin Water website. The map indicates whether a leak has been repaired in the last 24 hours or whether it’s still pending. Residents may also report leaks on the website.
Brotherton said ADRN is working with the group Plumbers Without Borders to help “a large number of area residents who still have burst pipes, extensive water damage from the winter storm. They have mobilized skilled volunteer labor, plumbing-related materials and supplies,” as well as working to get water to vulnerable residents, including the elderly, disabled and uninsured.
The Emergency Operations Center is expecting a shipment of 45,000 heater-meals to the expo center soon, with more to come from the state and the Red Cross. Bottled water from the expo center is going out at a rate of 70 pallets a day, but Brotherton expects that number to rise to 100 pallets per day. Bulk water is also being delivered by ADRN, three tankers, 16 hydrant sites and containers that are provided from Home Depot. More water can be sourced if it is determined the operation needs to continue.
“That decision will be made by Wednesday,” Brotherton said.
Sherri Fleming, county Health and Human Services executive, highlighted the participation of several community organizations and nonprofits, among them Austin Public Health, ADRN, Downtown Austin Community Court, Integral Care and ECHO (Ending Community Homelessness Coalition).
“They worked together over a span of about seven days to find safe transitions from Palmer Center for over 200 residents who sought shelter there after the winter weather. That ended Friday,” Fleming said.
County HHS has also been working with Central Texas Food Bank to aid in food delivery. This weekend, the food bank delivered two truckloads of food to various community distribution partners.
On top of that, HHS partnered with Business and Community Lenders of Texas to provide up to $50,000 in support money to nonprofits that were affected by Covid-19.
“That program allowed 52 or 53 agencies who received up to $50,000. Many of the agencies who applied did receive that,” Fleming said.
This story has been corrected to reflect the fact that the money given to businesses with Business and Community Lenders of Texas was to aid with the impacts of the pandemic, not the storm.
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